War Journals 7: Heretics in the Dark

The runner had approached the mobile camp in a huff. Still pleased with their victories through the Spring, his men were eager for anything resembling action. Blood was in the air. They’d heard rumors of Storm Hammers to the East and Dwarves to the West. More foolhardy than wise, the fighting men and woman of the Obesegrade Krigare were eager for either. But then, that was often the raw vibrancy of youth and a siloed experience. Most had never faced down a line of riflemen, or seen the small metal punching through line and armor like a knife through cheese. The scent of sulfur paired… poorly with the offal of the slaughter it inspired.

“My Lord,” he began having jumped off his horse in short order and performed a sharp salute. Sven turned to the voice, registering the face. Emil. One of the scouts attached to his vanguard, the much vaulted Flamberges, the pride of the Krigare.

“Emil,” he said. “Report.”

“Sir Ingvar rallies for aid,” he said. “Storm Hammers. A thousand or more with cavalry. He’s outnumbered, sir.”

“Well,” the older knight said, pushing himself to his feet from the camp chair. “We must indulge him, mustn’t we?”

Then to the rest of camp.

“Break camp! Sir Ingvar and his men are outnumbered by the Storm Hammer Clan here to make war. There is no malice here. They have invited us to play. Are we to sit back and let the Ice Fangs have all the fun?” his voice boomed across the encampment. His beloved Karls had died some months ago to the Hollow Song. But his levies, the soldiers he had acquired when he first entered the theater, along with a hundred or so fresh men, they had fought and bled with him for well over a year. They were as fine soldiers as he’d ever had the pleasure to serve with.

Freshly rallied, Sven gestured to Troels Hadvarson to oversee the breaking of camp. Another gesture summoned his horse. Hadvar had served his uncle for years, and his son hadn’t left his side for decades. The ease of the military routine settled well on his shoulders, and it was with a happy step that Sven and sundry wheeled their force South, marching threw the woods east of Runeheim. A stretch of trees that had affectionately been dubbed ‘murder alley’ for its tendency to host and hide enemy forces.

Unfortunately for the Krigare, the woods lived to its name.

A few days from Runeheim, as they trekked through the woods, calls and screams started to sound from deeper in the woods. Confusion yielded to an ambush. From the darkness leapt dozens of figures. They had horns and spikes and their flesh was adorned with horrid jewelry and scars. They fought savagely.

At first, Sven thought the Hollow Song had returned, such was their ferocity. But as they fought a hurried retreat, the sigils adorning the flesh of their foes was more abundantly clear. These were the Sons of Ulfrandr.

Amid the chaos, they were pushed back and well and truly routed. Four hundred veterans repelled by a hundred or so enemies. Ingvar’s attack when unaided. He was likewise repulsed. A flurry of letters back and forth to coordinate another attack on the Stormhammers, but by then they had bunkered down and were able to repel the combined forces of the Knights Fenris.

Retreating together, a dark glow settled on the pair of knight’s shoulders.

“I am going to kill every one of these pieces of shit, and anyone that has given them aid,” Ingvar fumed. To which the older knight simply nodded.

“No quarter,” he agreed. No quarter.

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